Official newsletter of the LSU College of Science  |   June 2015 
View President Alexander's testimony, which begins at 49:44


Testifying for Change

President F. King Alexander Testifies before  
Senate HELP Committee About Improving  
Higher Ed Access and Affordability 

LSU President and higher education policy expert F. King Alexander was recently invited to provide testimony to the Senate HELP, or Healthcare, Education, Labor & Pensions, Committee. He has provided testimony on Capitol Hill many times throughout his career, including to the House Committee on Labor and Education in 2003 and 2007, and to the Commission on Civil Rights in May 2015. Alexander's expert testimony has helped to guide federal mandates shaping higher education policy and ensuring more students have a viable path toward a quality, affordable college degree.


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LSU Receives $18.5 Million NIH Grant
to Build Biomedical Research Pipeline


LSU has received an $18.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, to support an Institutional Development Award, or IDeA, Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, or INBRE. The IDeA program builds research capacities in states that historically have had low levels of NIH funding by supporting basic, clinical and translational research; faculty development; and infrastructure improvements. IDeA is administered by NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences and is a component of its Center for Research Capacity Building. 

LSU's INBRE, named the Louisiana Biomedical Research Network, or LBRN, was established in September 2001. This $18.5 million grant was matched by a $1.2 million supplement from the Board of Regents. This is the third five-year grant received for this program. The total funding awarded for the LBRN program is now more than $55 million.
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T. Gregory Guzik, LaSPACE director and LSU physics professor


Louisiana Secures $2.5M from NASA for Space-related Research and Higher Ed    

The Louisiana Space Grant Consortium, or LaSPACE, which manages the NASA Space Grant and NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR programs, has been awarded three significant multi-year awards from NASA to support space-related research development and higher education programs in Louisiana. Over the next three years, Louisiana will receive $2.5 million from NASA, plus a crucial investment of about $1.9 million from the Board of Regents Support Fund.

"These three awards demonstrate that NASA recognizes the importance of Louisiana's aerospace R&D and workforce development," said T. Gregory Guzik, LaSPACE director and LSU professor of physics & astronomy. "The robust and continued investments from the Board of Regents proves Louisiana's commitment to growing STEM-based research and industry."


Study Sheds New Light on
How the Continents Came Together


A long-standing fact widely accepted among the scientific community has been recently refuted, which now has major implications on our understanding of how Earth has evolved.

Until recently, most geologists had determined the land connecting North and South America, the Isthmus of Panama, had formed 3.5 million years ago. But new data shows that this geological event, which dramatically changed the world, occurred much earlier. In a comprehensive biological study, researchers have confirmed this new information by showing that plants and animals had been migrating between the continents nearly 30 million years earlier.


Twin Genes 
Researchers Discover Second Stress Response Hormone
in Louisiana Garfish


Karen Maruska, LSU assistant professor of biological sciences, and postdoctoral scholar Brian Grone at the University of California, San Francisco, have uncovered the long lost twin of one of the most extensively studied genes in the brain. The researchers' discovery, documented in the May edition of The Journal of Comparative Neurology, will provide valuable insight into the evolution of this family of genes and their role in controlling stress and other physiological functions.


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Researchers Document the Impact of Asteroids that Hit the Earth Billions of Years Ago


Research led by LSU geologist Gary Byerly and Donald Lowe at Stanford University shows asteroids that impacted the Earth repeatedly billions of years ago released so much energy that the heat baked the skies and boiled the oceans. The researchers' work was published in the journal Geology.


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PhD Students Learn Basic Cryo-Electron Microscopy Techniques at 3D Cryo-EM Workshop  


Erin Schexnaydre, LSU PhD student in biological sciences, and other cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) experts, provided a crash course in state-of-the-art sample preparation, transfer and imaging, and image processing during a three-day workshop for PhD students and post-graduates interested in learning basic cryo-EM techniques. The event, led and organized by LSU graduate students, was a part of the university's Education and Enhancement of Science Graduate Workshop Series.



College Gears Up for BIOS 2015 

The July 17 deadline for the Biology Intensive Orientation for Students, or BIOS, is almost here. BIOS is a one week intensive program specifically for incoming biological sciences majors and other first-year students whose majors require them to take Biology 1201. The program is designed to help these students make the transition to the expectations of college prior to the start of the fall semester. 

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LSU Year in Review 2014-15

LSU Professor of Physics & Astronomy Bradley Schaefer and College of Science graduate and Gates Cambridge Scholar Zachary Fitzpatrick are featured in LSU's Year in Review video.

Take a look! 


Computational Chemist Kenneth Lopata
Receives Powe Junior Faculty Award

Kenneth Lopata, assistant professor of chemistry with a joint appointment in LSU's Center for Computation and Technology, was one of two LSU faculty members to receive the Ralph E. Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards, from the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, or ORAU.


Lopata and Celalettin Emre Ozdemir, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, were among 35 faculty members at ORAU-member institutions throughout the U.S. to be awarded grants for the 2015-16 academic year.


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C. Deibel 
M. Gaarde 
J. Pojman 
Assistant Professor of Physics & Astronomy Catherine Deibel was one of 44 scientists selected from across the nation to receive funding from the Department of Energy Office of Science Early Career Research Program. Grant recipients included 17 from DOE's national laboratories and 27 from U.S. universities. Deibel is the first at LSU to receive this highly competitive grant.

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Professor of Physics & Astronomy Mette Gaarde was elected to the Division for Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Sciences, or DAMOP, executive committee within the American Physical Society.


John Pojman, professor of chemistry and owner of Pojman Polymer Products, visited the New Orleans Studio of Glassworks to test his formula for 3P QuickCure Clay.

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Phil Adams, professor of physics & astronomy, and Tijiang Liu, postdoctocal researcher, published "Enhanced Electron Coherence in Atomically Thin Nb3SiTe6" in the May online edition of Nature Physics. The paper explores how the vibrations of atoms in a material change when the material is made very thin.This work suggests that electronic devices could be fabricated from these two-dimensional materials and these devices would have superior electrical properties to those of current technologies.




Jonathan Dowling , professor and Hearne Chair of Theoretical Physics; graduate student Jonathan Olson ; undergraduate student Evan Rabeaux ; and colleagues have published a paper in the May edition of Physical Review Letters titled " Linear Optical Quantum Metrology with Single Photons: Exploiting Spontaneously Generated Entanglement to Beat the Shot-Noise Limit ." Their research shows that a very simple scheme, using just single photons, is able to perform quantum measurement with a degree of precision impossible using classical light, ushering in a new era for quantum measurement.

Lydia Jagetic , physics graduate student, and Wayne Newhauser, Dr. Charles M. Smith Chair of Medical Physics and professor and director of the LSU Medical Physics and Health Physics program, published a proof-of-concept study on a novel dose model for radiation cancer therapy. Experimental portions of the work were performed at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Baton Rouge. The long-term goal of the study is to enable clinicians to improve outcomes for patients with good prospects for long-term survival.

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Wayne Newhauser , Rui Zhang, assistant professor of physics & astronomy, and Oleg Vassiliev,
adjunct professor of physics & astronomy, have published a paper titled "Reducing the Cost of Proton Radiation Therapy: The Feasibility of a Streamlined Treatment Technique for Prostate Cancer." The paper explores ways to reduce the cost of proton radiotherapy for cancer patients while increasing convenience for patients, especially those being treated far from home.

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Math Major Mentors High Achieving Students
in Duke Talent Identification Program  

LSU senior mathematics major and future math teacher Michelle Laskowski will be testing her teaching chops this summer as a mentor in the Duke University Talent Identification Program, or Duke TIP, at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute Observatory in Rosman, North Carolina.
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 College of Science May 2015 University Medalists

  Ron Neal, co-founder and co-owner of Houston 
  Energy LP and geology alumnus

College of Science Celebrates
the Class of 2015   

The LSU College of Science has a long-standing reputation for graduating some of LSU's top scholars. The college continued that tradition of excellence during its spring 2015 ceremony held May 15 in the Maddox Field House.
The College of Science Class of 2015 includes 17 University Medalists, students graduating with the highest grade point average; 13 with College Honors, the highest recognition awarded jointly by the College of Science and the Honors College; and 120 with Latin Honors. The College also had two students to graduate with the Distinguished Communicator Award and one commissioned as an officer in the Armed Forces.

Dean Cynthia Peterson presided over the exercise and geology alumnus and co-founder/co-owner of Houston Energy LP Ron Neal served as the keynote speaker.

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 Photo (left to right): Bruno Beltran (Stanford), Jason
 Mueller (Bristol), Rachael Keller (Columbia), Paxton
 Turner (MIT), and Avery St. Dizier (Cornell).

"Serious" faces from Dean Cynthia Peterson and our May math graduates

May Math Graduates
Accepted to Top PhD Programs

This fall, some of the college's top math graduates will begin a new chapter in their academic career in some of the nation's most presitigious PhD and Masters programs.

After working at Yale this summer, Bruno Beltran will move on to Stanford's PhD program in chemical & systems biology. Jason Mueller will attend graduate school at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom where he plans to pursue a PhD in quantum engineering. Rachel Keller is participating in the RIPS Program in Hong Kong this summer and will attend Columbia University in the fall to pursue a PhD in applied mathematics. Paxton Turner will report to MIT in the fall to began working towards a PhD in mathematics and Avery St. Dizier will pursue a PhD in mathematics at Cornell University.

This is just a sampling of Math's stellar graduates. Click HERE for more information about the department's spring graduates.  


Photo (left to right): Jason Mueller, Outstanding Senior Award; Rachael Keller, Outstanding Senior Award; Jennifer Kenyon, Outstanding Junior Award; and Nikka Khorsandi, Outstanding Sophomore Award.

College Hosts 40th Annual
Choppin Honors Convocation

The College of Science celebrated the achievements of its stellar students and faculty during the 40th Annual Dean Arthur R. Choppin Honors Convocation April 28 in the Student Union Royal Cotillion Ballroom. More than 60 awards were given including College of Science Outstanding Senior, Junior, and Sophomore Awards, The Dean's Award, Tiger Athletic Fund Undergraduate Teaching Awards, Distinguished Dissertation Awards and various departmental recognitions.

> Click HERE for a complete list of this year's award recipients


Jeff Lester, from left, Matt McCarroll, John Havens, Jud Grady, Ron Neal with scissors), Billy Harrison (hidden behind Neal), Keith Jordan, Marty Phillips, Clarence Cazalot, and Phil Martin.

Photo by Rhonda Rogers Armor

LSU Alumni Brand
Petroleum Club Watering Hole
the Bayou Bengal Bar


Ron Neal, geology alumni, co-founder/co-owner of Houston Energy LP and a director on the Petroleum Club of Houston board , spearheaded an initiative to raise the necessary funds to win the naming rights for the sleek watering hole in the club's new digs. Now dubbed the Bayou Bengal Bar, thanks to the efforts of 12 LSU grads, all leaders in the energy industry, the brass plaque will forever stake their claim atop the 35-story Total Plaza.

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SU System President Emerita and LSU Alumnus Dolores Spikes 

Remembering SU President Emerita
and LSU Alumnus Dolores Spikes  


Dolores Spikes, an unwavering supporter for equal access to education in Louisiana, died June 1 in Baton Rouge. A trailblazer in mathematics and higher education administration, Spikes was the first African American to earn a PhD in mathematics from LSU and the first woman to lead a public university system in the U.S.

Spikes earned a BS in mathematics from Southern University (SU) in 1957, followed by an MS degree in mathematics from the University of Illinois in 1958, and a PhD in mathematics from LSU in 1971.

In 1961, she returned to SU as an assistant professor of mathematics. By the late 1980s she served as chancellor for SU Baton Rouge and SU New Orleans, and in 1988 was appointed president of the SU System.

The college is honored to have Dr. Dolores Spikes among our most distinguished alumni. She left an indelible mark on higher education in Louisiana and throughout the U.S.

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The College of Science would like to welcome the newest members of the Dean's Circle.
Thank you for your contribution to the teaching and research activities in the college.

  • Dr. Jason C. Miller & Mrs. Jill B. Miller, May 2015
  • Mr. and Mrs. Joseph & Kim Reid, May 2015


Click HERE for a complete list of Dean's Circle Members 


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